Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 14, 2012

Wind farm opponents plan strategy for coming fight

Group hopes to stop development.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

— Opponents of the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm have obtained signatures of 127 people on an online petition to stop the development in northwestern Tipton County.

The group has a goal of 400 signatures on the petition, which will probably be presented to the Tipton County Council Tuesday when it considers approval of a 10-year tax abatement requested by juwi Wind LLC.

The Tipton County Council is set to consider the abatement request at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Tipton County Foundation; during the meeting a tax abatement request from Chrysler Group LLC for the vacant Getrag building at U.S. 31 and Ind. 28 will be considered.

The Sharpsville Town Council Thursday discussed the proposed wind farm that will approach the western edge of the community but took no action for or against the project.

“The general consensus was most of us don’t want to look to the west and see the wind turbines,” said Rob Rupe, council member. “We want to slow the process down and do more research. There needs to be more discussion on the impact on the Sharpsville community.”

The group in opposition to the wind farm met Wednesday at the South Branch of the Kokomo/Howard County Public Library.

“It is an opportunity for the growing number of Tipton County citizens opposed to the wind farms to discuss their concerns about the negative and pervasive effects the windmills will have in our county,” opponent Nathan Salsberry said in an email. “As citizens have become aware of Tipton County’s plans to have windmills all over the county (especially after seeing the turbines of the Wildcat Wind Farm visible from 10 miles away), concerns have escalated regarding the damaging effects of the windmills on homeowners and the landscape of the county.”

Brian Key, an opponent, said the group’s objective is to convince the county council to reject the abatement and send it back to the Tipton County Commissioners for more input from residents.

The Prairie Breeze Wind Farm is being proposed by juwi Wind LLC for almost all of Prairie Township and the western portion of Liberty Township, on the outskirts of Sharpsville.

The company is requesting a 10-year tax abatement on the development which could mean up to 95 wind turbines constructed at an estimated cost of between $100 and $300 million.

The Prairie Breeze Wind Farm would be located between 200 North to the Clinton County line, north to the Howard County line and west to 400 West.

Company officials said they have leases with 50 local property owners, which contains 150 parcels.

A wind farm is a permitted use under Tipton County zoning regulations but would need a conditional use permit approved by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals.

Construction on the wind farm is scheduled to begin in 2014, but could be moved forward to 2013, depending on the fate of federal tax credits on wind energy projects.

The superintendent of the Tri-Central Community Schools, Lee Williford, has voiced support for the project because of the increased tax base which will provide additional revenues to the school system.